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Henrietta Lacks’ family plans to sue Hopkins over use of cells

Johns Hopkins Univerity in Baltimore. (Maximilian FranzThe Daily Record.

Johns Hopkins Univerity in Baltimore. (Maximilian FranzThe Daily Record.

The son of Henrietta Lacks is seeking compensation for the unauthorized use of his mother’s cells in scientific research since her 1951 death, as detailed in a best-selling book.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Lawrence Lacks, his son and daughter-in-law say they plan to file a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins University in coming weeks.

Attorneys previously told the family the statute of limitations had passed, but attorney Francis Lanasa says he would use a “continuing tort” argument that Johns Hopkins continued to violate the “personal rights, privacy and body parts” of Henrietta Lacks over time.

Johns Hopkins officials say no established consent practice or regulations on cell use for research existed when the cells were taken.

The 2010 nonfiction book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” focuses on Lacks’ cell line, one of the most important in medical research.